February 28

Ruth Marcus [“Losing the art of legislating,” op-ed, Feb. 26] correctly observed that “the era of lawmakers has given way to an age of law-stoppers.” In lamenting the loss of leadership willing to compromise, we should not ignore three underlying trends at work over the past two or three decades: more partisan redistricting processes, the fragmentation and democratization of media and the rise of data-driven campaign strategies that tailor candidates’ messages to ever more discrete blocs of voters. 

These trends all arise from technological advances in the digital age, and they favor candidates who cater to their base and shy away from risky compromise. 

An assertive, active movement of centrist voters could trump these trends and could inspire today’s legislators — who are just as rational as their predecessors — to regain “an appetite for legislating.”

Roger Schlegel, Takoma Park